Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Jianyu Liang, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Richard D. Sisson, Jr., Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Mingjiang Tao, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Satya S. Shivkumar, Committee Member




The demand for high performance Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) is increasing due to widespread use of portable devices and electric vehicles. Silicon (Si) is one of the most attractive candidate anode materials for the next generation LIBs because of its high theoretical capacity (3,578 mAh/g) and low operation potential (~0.4 V vs Li+/Li). However, the high volume change (>300%) during Lithium ion insertion/extraction leads to poor cycle life. The goal of this work is to improve the electrochemical performance of Si/C composite anode in LIBs. Two strategies have been employed: to explore spatial arrangement in micro-sized Si and to use Si/graphene nanocomposites. A unique branched microsized Si with carbon coating was made and demonstrated promising electrochemical performance with a high active material loading ratio of 2 mg/cm2, large initial discharge capacity of 3,153 mAh/g and good capacity retention of 1,133 mAh/g at the 100th cycle at 1/4C current rate. Exploring the spatial structure of microsized Si with its advantages of low cost, easy dispersion, and immediate compatibility with the prevailing electrode manufacturing technology, may indicate a practical approach for high energy density, large-scale Si anode manufacturing. For Si/Graphene nanocomposites, the impact of particle size, surface treatment and graphene quality were investigated. It was found that the electrochemical performance of Si/Graphene anode was improved by surface treatment and use of graphene with large surface area and high defect density. The 100 nm Si/Graphene nanocomposites presented the initial capacity of 2,737 mAh/g and good cycling performance with a capacity of 1,563 mAh/g after 100 cycles at 1/2C current rate. The findings provided helpful insights for design of different types of graphene nanocomposite anodes.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Materials Science & Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted



Restricted-WPI community only


Anode, Lithium-ion Battery, Graphene, Silicon

Available for download on Monday, January 20, 2020